When it comes to the food you give your pet, you want what’s best for their health — but do you also know the impact that food has on the planet? As President of Nestlé Purina PetCare in the United States, I’m always thinking about how our pet foods can provide the best nutrition with the lowest impact on the environment.
Why? At Purina we know that making our pet food sustainably today is critical to ensuring people and pets share a healthy world tomorrow.
From the soil where our ingredients grow to our manufacturing facilities where our pet food is made, you can be confident that we’re using resources efficiently throughout the journey of your pet’s food. Here’s a look behind the bowl at five ways Purina is promoting a healthy environment.
1. Smart, Responsible Sourcing
Every ingredient in our food serves a purpose. In addition to ensuring it meets the nutritional needs of your pet, we need to know how and where that ingredient is raised — that there’s a healthy supply, it’s sustainable long-term, and that the supplier’s environmental practices align with our standards. Sustainability is at the forefront of development for every Purina product.
Take our cod supplier in Alaska, for example. They embrace a low environmental impact method of fishing with on-board processing capabilities that allows for both maximum utilization of catch and the highest quality Wild Alaskan Cod production possible. The cod we source is rich in protein, high in omega-3 fatty acids and is used in brands like Purina Beyond, which has a new line featuring several recipes with fish that come from MSC certified sustainable sources.
2. Thinking Big
Change doesn’t happen without making bold steps forward. That’s why we’re holding ourselves accountable by setting ambitious goals for the future:
- Using 100% Renewable Electricity
Since 2007, we’ve reduced greenhouse gas emitted per ton of production by 15%, and more than 40% of our total electricity today comes from renewable sources such as solar, hydro-power, wind and investments in renewable energy. 60% of our Dunkirk, New York, factory’s electricity is generated by Niagara Falls, and our two Pennsylvania factories receive nearly 80% of their electricity from a newly developed wind farm. It’s going to take continued work, but our goal is to reach 100% renewable electricity in the shortest practical time-frame.
- 100% Reusable or Recyclable Packaging
Packaging is critical for a variety of reasons, from preserving the safety and quality of our pet food, treats and cat litter, to preventing food waste, maintaining shelf life and providing information for pet owners. It’s also critical that our packaging doesn’t end up in landfills. We’re committed to making 100% of our packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025. Today, 80% of Purina’s packaging in the United States is already recyclable and we’re tackling the remaining 20% by performing trials to explore the use of new innovative materials and collaborating with other companies in the consumer goods, packaging and recycling industries to fund research that could lead to improvements in community recycling infrastructure and technology.
3. Embracing the Power of Partnerships
We’ve said it many times: people are better with pets. People are also better when they work together on big goals.
With the sourcing of high quality ingredients comes the reality that growing crops and raising animals on farms requires energy, water and nutrients. The best way we can help preserve abundant U.S. crops is to invest with farmers and other partners in projects across the United States that preserve soil and promote clean water, biodiversity and other factors that create healthy ingredients and a healthy ecosystem.
As my colleague Diane Herndon has written about recently, we’ve teamed up with many organizations, including The Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited, to employ and promote these sustainable agriculture practices across 33.8 million acres, complementing the work done by thousands of farmers. We’ve supported these organizations on everything from smart irrigation, to working to restore flood plains and improving soil health.
4. Using Less Water
Water is essential to life and it’s critical we use this precious resource responsibly, whether it’s funding cutting-edge smart weather sensors for farmers to irrigate their crops or managing the water in our own processes. That’s why we continuously promote responsible water use in and around our 20 U.S. factories. Since 2007, Purina has improved water use efficiency at our U.S. factories by more than 20%, and we’re committed to safely treating that water before it returns to the environment. Our factories have implemented some impressive projects that conserve water, and these learnings are being incorporated into the design and start-up of our newest factory in Hartwell, Georgia.
5. Minimizing Waste
Traditional landfills can be a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, so how can we minimize that? One way is simply to not send any waste there!
It’s a big challenge for a pet food and litter maker with 20 U.S. factories, but it’s a challenge we’ve accepted and will achieve soon. First we improved our processes to minimize waste to begin with, and now we’re sending residual waste to destinations that put it to a beneficial use, such as recycling, for energy recovery, and for composting — which has benefits for soil health. Today more than 80% of Purina’s U.S. factories have achieved zero waste for disposal, and the remaining factories will get there by the end of next year.
Our sustainability actions have two purposes — we want to continue making high-quality and nutritious pet foods for many years to come, and we also want a healthy planet for our communities and our pets to live on!
I’ll continue to make this work a priority at Purina and hope you’ll continue enjoying the benefits our foods bring to your pet.
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